Walk to No Name Lake

I discovered this walk while browsing through some walking books in the local bookshop.  The picture of the lake, with the mountains reflected, looked superb, so I set off from Arolla, hoping to replicate it.   Unfortunately, the snow at 2,900m (9,500 ft) had not melted away sufficiently, so I will have to return later in the summer.

In keeping with the “No name” idea, I’ve decided not to give titles to these images and let them speak for themselves… 🙂

 

Eison (Bugs and Butterflies) Walk

One of the things I always look forward to when I go out for a walk, (apart from the exercise and the magnificent scenery of course), is to try and spot something new, or of interest, to capture on camera.  If I see something, like a butterfly, I’ll often follow it, wait for it to land and then try to get a close-up.  Bugs tend to be easier, as they move more slowly or may even sit still.  Flowers, equally, don’t move very much. 🙂

Then the fun starts…  When I get home and prepare my pictures for these posts, I scour my (Collins Gem, Butterflies; RSPB, Birds and Swiss Alpine Club, Our Alpine Flora) books to see what they might be, so that I can give them the correct title.  However, I don’t have a book on bugs and some birds are incredibly hard to identify.  A search of the internet for “Red bug” or “Small brown bird” reveals hundreds of images, none of which seem to match my pictures.

So I’m afraid the following gallery contains a few unknowns, some of which may be rare, I don’t know, but please let me know if you can identify any of them.  Also, I’ve cropped some the photos to provide a sort of close-up, so that you can see the detail of these magnificent little creatures.  I don’t know about you, but I think they are simply amazing.

Photographic footnote:  All of these pictures (indeed almost all of my recent pictures) were taken with a Lumix DMC-TZ58, point and shoot, camera.  If a subject stays still long enough, I can get the lens to within maybe 2cm (1″) of it.  The issue is sometimes getting the auto-focus to pick up the object that I’m aiming it at, but generally (or eventually) it works.  🙂

 

 

 

Walk from Evolène to Arolla, via the new Footbridge

For the past week or so, the temperatures in the Val d’Hérens have steadily risen to the mid-20’s Centigrade, (late 70’s Fahrenheit).   The alpine meadows are therefore bursting with an abundance of flowers, which, in turn, means an awful lot of butterflies and bugs…

Now, I always like to show you something new, so I was rather pleased that the Powers That Be have decided to build a new suspension footbridge over the river near Arolla.  It has always been a bit hit and miss crossing there, as the river bed spreads far and wide.  Each year the water seems to take a new course, to the extent that the old bridge, which was falling down anyway, spanned nothing at all.   (The even older bridge below the Sporting Hotel, which is mentioned in some walking guide books, was washed away years ago).  When I got there, the workmen were still putting the finishing touches to the bridge, so I was perhaps fortunate to be allowed to cross it.

Later, as I was sorting out my photographs, I noticed that a little creature, probably some sort of bee, had hovered into my picture of a patch of Bladder Campion (pic 8).  Normally, flying bugs appear as a bit of a blur and spoil the image, but I think it’s actually created a better photo, so I’ve included a cropped, more close-up, picture as 8a.

 

Skye and Canna

We left the Outer Hebrides as we’d arrived, to the beautiful sound of bagpipes.  This time the ferry would take us from Tarbert to Uig on the Isle of Skye and, from there, we drove back to mainland Britain, to stay with Jude’s good friend, Kate at the Waterside Café in Lochcarron.

We had hoped to visit St Kilda during our time on Harris, but strong winds meant our trip had to be cancelled.  As a consolation, and for her own birthday, Judith arranged a trip on a speedy, inflatable boat to the small and very peaceful island of Canna, which lies south west of Elgol on Skye and just off the coast of the island of Rum.

It’s not often you get such calm seas and blue skies, which enable you to see the full extent of the Black Cuillin ridge, so we were very lucky.  A traditional fish and chip takeaway, looking out to sea in Broadford, completed a perfect day !  🙂

Walk from Hushinish

For my final post on the Outer Hebrides, I thought I’d save the best until last… 🙂

If you take the single track road which runs to the far west of North Harris, you will arrive at a small group of buildings, called Hushinish.  From there, you can walk along a coastal path, about 3k or 1.5 miles north, to Traigh Mheilin.   As you will have seen from my previous posts, we saw many beautiful beaches on our travels, but I think it’s fair to say that this was my favourite of them all.

 

Scalpay

To the south-west of Tarbet is the small island of Scalpay (covering just 2.5 sq. miles or 653 ha).   It sits just 300m (about 1000 ft) off the coast of Harris and a ferry service operated until 1997 when a bridge was finally built.  At the far wesern tip, is Eilean Glas lighthouse, which was the first lighthouse to be built in the Outer Hebrides (and first illuminated in October 1789).

After parking in Scalpay village, Judith and I walked (6 miles / 9.5 k) along the waymarked circular path which runs around the island.  Though it is possible to drive and park within about a mile or 1500m of the lighthouse.

Lewis

I guess it was inevitable that we would travel to the Butt of Lewis at the very north of the Outer Hebrides – partly because it has to be done and partly because Judith wanted to see the Lighthouse.  (You may have noticed that I  always have a lot of lighthouse pictures in my posts when we’re away on holiday).

On the day we drove up, it was THE most foul day on Harris with not just rain, but the wind howling around.  We had to feel sorry for the poor cyclists who were pushing their bicycles up the steep road that leads out of Tarbert, into the teeth of the gale.  To give you a flavour of how bad it was, the wind was taking the water in the loch about 30 feet (10 metres) into the air.  I’ve never seen anything like it !

Thankfully it either subsided, or the weather was better in the north of the island, but we had a great day exploring Stornoway, the Port of Ness, some traditional cottages at Blackhouses and the lighthouse of course! 🙂

Harris

When is an island not an island?  At least one answer would be when they are referred to as the ‘Isle of Harris’ and the ‘Isle of Lewis’.  These two supposed ‘islands’ are in fact joined at the hip and form one big island (the largest in Scotland).  I’m not sure why the island doesn’t have just one name, that will have to remain a mystery (to me anyway).

Harris is the more southerly and mountainous of the two, with Clisham as it’s highest point at 799m or 2,621 ft.  It is of course rightly famous for it’s magnificent beaches.  Luskentyre being perhaps the most famous, though we enjoyed discovering several others.

 

North Uist and Berneray

I think it’s fair to say that Judith and I had a bit of a beach holiday, but not in the normal sense… 😉

Again, we didn’t spend enough time on North Uist and Berneray, which lies to the north, to do them both justice, as we were only there for 2 full days, but we did find some amazing places.  To the far west there is an RSPB (bird) reserve at Balranald, where you will find several species of mainly wading birds, as well as the occasional ‘flock’ of bird watchers.   A list in the Visitor centre indicated that over 40 different birds had been spotted in May alone (and we were there on the 11th!)

I don’t have a copy to show you, but the warden had managed to take a very sharp picture of an Iceland Gull with his mobile phone, through his telescope!  The wonders of modern technology!